While Zion Williamson is the most intriguing NBA prospect in years, there are worries that his massive 6-7, 285-pound frame isn’t built for long-term basketball success.
And it’s not just media critics trumpeting those concerns. His fellow rookies don’t believe he’ll live up to his lofty status as the No. 1 pick by the New Orleans Pelicans.
NBA rookies like Zion’s Duke teammate better
The NBA released its annual rookie survey polling players about each other’s prospects on Monday, and there’s not much confidence in Williamson in the long run.
Instead, NBA rookies believe one of Williamson’s teammates at Duke will end up having the best career. And no — the answer isn’t R.J. Barrett.
A whopping 19 percent of rookies polled believe that Cam Reddish will end up being the best player from the draft class of 2019.
Is Reddish better than his season at Duke suggests?
Reddish, a wing player who shot 35.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the college 3-point line during his only season at Duke, was widely considered the third-best prospect coming out of the Blue Devils’ loaded class. The Atlanta Hawks selected him with the 10th overall pick in June’s draft.
Some argue that Reddish was restricted by a Duke system that wasn’t a good fit and believe he can thrive in the NBA. His fellow rookies have apparently bought into that narrative.
Others ranked as good as, better than Zion
But Reddish isn’t the only player rated ahead of Williamson in the rookie survey in terms of long-term prospects. Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and Reddish’s fellow Hawks rookie De’Andre Hunter also ranked considerably higher than Williamson.
Williamson finished in a four-way tie for fourth in the survey with five percent of the vote. Here’s how the voting broke down, per NBA.com:
Which rookie will have the best career?
1. Cam Reddish, Hawks — 19 percent
2. Ja Morant, Grizzlies — 16 percent
3. De'Andre Hunter, Hawks — 11 percent
Rookies like Williamson for now
The short term is a different story. Williamson’s fellow rookies see Rookie of the Year honors as a two-man race between Williamson and Morant, with Williamson coming out on top.
From the survey:
Who will win Rookie of the Year?
1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans — 35 percent
2. Ja Morant, Memphis — 27 percent
3. R.J. Barrett, New York — 5 percent
Cam Reddish, Atlanta — 5 percent
In addition to the bizarre confidence in Reddish, these poll results point clearly to a widely held belief about Williamson. His weight is going to be a problem.
While he’s 19 years old and in his physical prime, his size is an asset as long as he retains his tremendous athleticism. He’s a favorite for Rookie of the Year.
But what works at 19 doesn’t necessarily work at 25 or 30 years old. And Williamson’s fellow rookies appear to agree with Charles Barkley that 285 pounds isn’t going to cut it for Williamson in the long run.
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